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Week 160
You are on Week 161
Week 162

Every week we will be starting a new Story Telling competition - with great prizes! The current prize is 2000 NP, plus a rare item!!! This is how it works...

We start a story and you have to write the next few paragraphs. We will select the best submissions every day and put it on the site, and then you have to write the next one, all the way until the story finishes. Got it? Well, submit your paragraphs below!

Story One Hundred and Sixty-one Ends January 16th

The Aisha crouched in the shadows of the alley, his eyes nervously darting backwards and forwards. There was something hunting him. He could hear paw steps, ones that stopped a few seconds after his did. He sensed movement close by, and light breathing that was not his own.

This was no game. It was a professional, one that sought what he held.

He ducked out of the narrow mouth of the alley, creeping swiftly down the deserted street. It was a cloudy night, devoid of even a soft moonlight to cast a small light into the inky blackness. He clutched the precious bundle tight to his chest. They would never have it! Never!

Faster now, the Aisha hurried just a little. He heard the light footfalls speed up behind him a fraction, too. How eerie it was! In the dark night, he was on edge as it was. He played a finely balanced game here: run, and the pursuer would surely catch him... but walk for too long, and he risked the same fate. Every nerve in his body was taut and tight. He wouldn't make it home tonight: back to the den of the Thieves, where his parcel would be safe. He would have to gamble on Lady Luck being by his side.

He broke an all-out sprint, rushing through cobbled streets, hurtling up a drainpipe and fleeing over silent roofs. The iced tiles meant that his foot often slipped. His follower was too close behind him now. He had no choice.

Whispering a spell for soft landing, the Aisha dropped his bundle carefully down the nearest chimney and fled. He almost crowed with joy as the hunter took the bait and followed him. Sliding over the icy roofs, the Aisha prayed for the safety of his charge. He felt cold breath on his neck, and the hunter at his heels.

He would not make it home tonight, nor any other night, but his job was done.

In a grate, amongst the ashes of a cold fire, a small baby Shoyru slept. It lay there, unaware of the sacrifices made for it, unaware of the future awaiting it, and unaware of its history, parents, or destiny. The baby was also unaware of its new home; in fact, it was unaware of everything but the soft blanket wrapped around it and the shimmering pendant around its neck...

Author: oily106
Date: 05 January
..."Ayamin! Ayamin!"

The fire Shoyru woke with a start. He'd had the same dream before. It was odd... always the same in detail, but a little more happened each time.

Ayamin slowly slid out of bed, yawning, and then padded down the long hall into the brightly lit, merry kitchen, where a fire was crackling cheerfully.

"Good morning, Ayamin!" the Shoyru's mother said briskly.

"Good morning, mother," Ayamin replied slowly and calmly. Yet, he felt something stirring within him; it was a kind of joy, fear, and excitement mixed into one. The sensation was similar to the feeling he got in his belly when he was nervous. The Shoyru frowned as he tried to determine what to make of it. He finally decided it was nothing.

This had happened before, after he'd last had the dream, six full-moons ago. In fact, he realized, he'd been having the dream, every six months, for the past two years.

"Mother... I-I" Ayamin started.

"Yes?" she replied.

"I keep having this dream..." Ayamin suddenly paused. Was it a dream?

His mother listened intently while Ayamin described his so-called "dream" to her.

Ayamin noticed that his mother stood rigid as Ayamin's telling of the dream came to an end. "Mother, are you all right?" he asked.

"Yes... yes... I-I'm f-fine." Ayamin, however, knew that she wasn't okay. She sighed deeply, then said, "Come with me."

Confused, and wondering why he couldn't at least have had breakfast first, Ayamin strode after his mother.

Ayamin stopped on the left-hand side of his mother's body. She was bent over a chest that was full of old leather books, whose covers were dusty and creased.

His mother looked up from the chest, with a square, dust-coated box in her hand.

"I've been meaning to show this to you..." Ayamin's mother said, her voice trailing off. "Come closer."

Ayamin walked closer to his mother, until his fire-colored hide touched her red one.

"This may come as a surprise..." Ayamin's mother whispered. It was as though she was talking to herself.

The Shoryu could hear the deep breath that his mother took as she lifted the cover from the box. Ayamin gasped in surprise when he saw what lay within the box's depths...

Author: elcaballoderojo
Date: 05 January

...a beautiful pendant, royal blue and shimmering gently, lay on a small silk cushion. It was the same pendant he'd seen in his dreams. The colour, the shape, everything about it was exactly the same.

Ayamin stepped back in shock. His mother held out her arms, preventing him from tumbling backwards into the furniture, with the small box still in her hand.

"They weren't dreams," his mother said softly. "They were memories."

"It can't be! You're my real mother!" Ayamin cried, tears rolling down his cheeks. "You are... I grew up with you!"

His mother placed the small box onto a cabinet and knelt down beside him. Her eyes were anxious as she placed her hand on Ayamin's shoulder, to calm him for what she had to say next.

"Ayamin, I'm not your mother. I found you one morning at the bottom of my chimney. You looked so weak, and so helpless. I had to keep you, as if you were my own. You were but a small baby, too small to fend for yourself. I found the pendant and put it in the box, so that you could see it when the time was right."

"W-what do you mean, 'When the time was right'"? asked Ayamin, his eyes itching for her to tell him every single thing she knew.

"Well, when I first saw you, it was the pendant that alarmed me most. It shimmered, just the same as it did now, and looked like something I'd never seen before. I knew it was special to you in some way."

"So then, who's the thief in my dream? The one who dropped me down the chimney. Also, I can remember someone following me. Who was that?" Ayamin forced the questions out of his mouth with such speed and intensity that it sounded like he was trying to ask each one at the same time.

"I'm sorry Ayamin, but it's something that only one person can find out... you."

He looked at his mother with large eyes. Ayamin knew it was time, but he didn't really want to believe it. He didn't feel ready yet. Ayamin took the box off the cabinet and opened it, staring at the pendant cushioned softly inside.

"I'll be in the kitchen if you need me," his mother said. "Right now I think you need time alone."

His mother quietly left the room and closed the door behind her.

As he peered at the pendant, an unusual feeling swept over him. His heart fluttered inside him, while his legs and arms tingled. His head spun gently as he continued to stare. That was when he realised that the time had come to do what he should have done a long time ago: fulfill his destiny, and find out the very past that had been lying dormant in his mind, waiting to be discovered...

Author: ginger23456
Date: 06 January
...Ayamin lifted the pendant from its dusty box and placed it over his head.

He immediately felt a calming sensation come over him. His head cleared, making it easier to collect his thoughts.

Staring at the pendant, he watched as the silvery ripples danced inside. They twisted and swooped, never stopping and never faltering.

As he stared at the pendant, he thought of the thief. Why had those people wanted me? he asked himself. Glancing down, he realized it might not be him that they'd wanted, but the pendant.

Clutching it protectively under his chin, Ayamin walked into the kitchen where his mother, or foster-mother, had been preparing a backpack with food, a blanket, and clothing.

"Mother," Ayamin said, still clutching the pendant. "I've decided to search for the band of thieves that rescued me. Maybe they've been sending me the dreams, as a warning or a clue."

Ayamin's foster-mother turned around to give him the backpack. "I thought you might," she said, wiping her eyes with an apron "Be careful, and whatever you do, don't let anyone know about the pendant."

Embracing Ayamin before shooing him out the back door, she said goodbye to her son.

As Ayamin set out on the road, tingling with sadness and excitement, he thought to himself, Here it is, my first adventure. Hopefully, I'll come to a better end than that Aisha did...

Editor's Note: Hey everyone, since we're off to such a good start, I've decided to try and run this story two weeks! :) Hopefully that will give us plenty of time to explore Ayamin's origins, and his destiny!

Author: smart1neo
Date: 06 January

...For days the young Shoyru traveled through the city, and among the small villages nearby. Some days he would walk on the soft, beaten path; other days he would soar into the sky, gazing at the landscape below. Ayamin was actually enjoying his little journey, but there was one detail he was unaware of: where he was supposed to be going.

All he knew was that the Aisha who brought him to his foster mother was a thief. Thieves can be anywhere, Ayamin thought. Perching on a roof, on the outskirts of the city, the Shoyru took a moment to think. Gazing over the vast city, he noticed a distinctly derelict area in the distance. His mother had always warned him to stay away from that district, because it was swarming with disreputable folk... a perfect place for thieves, Ayamin decided. At least it was a start.

Pushing off the rooftop, he flew towards the run-down district. From above, he gazed around the marketplace, watching the busy Neopets hurrying to and fro with their business. Ayamin wasn't sure whom to ask first, but then he saw a Wocky selling jewelry at a stand. The Shoyru gazed down at his pendant. Perhaps the merchant could tell him what his pendant meant.

"Excuse me," Ayamin said politely to the Wocky. "Can you help me?"

The Wocky leaned over and glanced down at the Shoyru. "Hello there, little one! Would you like to buy one of my trinkets? I'm having a special today on bracelets."

"No, I'm sorry. I was wondering... does this pendant mean anything to you?" He then took the stone in his hand and lifted it up, so the Wocky could see.

The merchant's eyes lit up as he gazed upon the beautiful stone. "My, my... what a lovely stone. Actually, I do believe I've seen one of those before, but I'll need to have a closer look. Follow me..."

Ayamin followed the Wocky into a nearby alley. He looked around nervously, and didn't particularly like his surroundings. It was dark and musty. Upon looking behind him, Ayamin noticed that he was now in an area where the marketplace's visitors couldn't see him.

"Um, sir?" he asked nervously. "What are you going to show me?"

The Wocky's grin grew bigger. "This!" he said, quickly snatching Ayamin's arm and drawing a dagger from his belt. He pointed the small blade at his throat. "The stone or your life!" he hissed.

Ayamin felt his heart freeze as he struggled. "L-let go!"

While Ayamin tried to escape, a small glow emitted from the stone. The Wocky noticed this, too.

"It is magic," he whispered, tightening his grip. "Hand it over, you little runt!"

Ayamin was just about to call for help, when a dark figure suddenly leapt out from the shadows and tackled the Wocky.

The figure leapt off the Wocky, then stood in front of Ayamin, as if to protect him. Angered, the Wocky rose to his feet. "Why, you little..." he started to growl.

Just then, the figure spoke. "Singe... now!"

A small Moltenore leapt out of the shadows, taking his place behind the Wocky. Drawing a deep breath, he let out a stream of fire upon the Neopet's tail. Feeling the burning sensation race through his body, the Wocky yowled in pain as he ran back into the streets of the marketplace.

Ayamin turned to his hero, who was laughing hysterically. "Th-thank you!"

"Don't mention it," the figure said while pulling down its hood. Ayamin was surprised to find a lovely female red Ixi smiling at him. "You need to be careful around this place, you know... especially in alleyways. So, you gotta name?"

"I'm Ayamin," he said, reaching out his hand to shake.

"I'm Xylina, but my friends call me Xy, and this is my Moltenore, Singe." The tiny fire creature walked up to Ayamin and gently nuzzled his leg. The Shoyru smiled and petted the little creature. He had read about Moltenores, and knew that their fire was kept inside.

As Ayamin looked back at Xy, he noticed something on her arm. She wore a golden arm bracelet, which seemed to stir long forgotten memories...

Author: bitsy_dj
Date: 07 January
There was something engraved in the gold, but Ayamin couldn't discern if it was a drawing, or some strange kind of writing. However, his attention immediately returned to Singe, as the petpet leaned more into his hand, begging for more pampering.

"Wow," said the Ixi, sounding positively delighted. "Singe seems to really like you. He usually just stays away from strangers." Her smile widened. "Well, if he likes you, then I guess that makes you cool guy."

"Thank you," Ayamin said again, flattered.

"I was wondering why that Wocky threatened you. After all, the folks around here would rather sell their merchandise to tourists, instead of attacking them, unless they had something they really wanted. It's bad business, you know..."

His heart skipped a beat and he put his hand on his pendant, shielding it from Xy's view. The Ixi raised an inquisitive eyebrow at this. The Moltenore whimpered when Ayamin's petting halted, then wandered back over to its master, nudging her leg instead.

Kneeling down to pat the Petpet's head, Xy went on. "I sure hope that Wocky isn't a member of the Blaze thieves. If he is, and if he tells their leader what happened... well, I'd just hate to see the kind of trouble that would get you into."

"Thieves?" This was the break he was waiting for. "There are thieves here?" he asked, trying to sound surprised.

"Are you kidding? This place is crawling with them. If you're not a thief, then you're a tourist."

"Well, then... that would that make you...?"

"Yes, I am a member of the Storm thieves. There are several different groups; some are allies, and some are enemies. For example, the Blaze thieves are our enemy. We've been competing with them since before I was born. Their hideout is in the middle of the wasteland, right outside of town... however, there are very few who know wherethe actual location is. I come from the mountain, which is just north of their hideout. That would be northwest of the city, but--"

"Can you take me there?" Ayamin asked, his eyes lighting up.

The Ixi looked doubtful.

"Please," the Shoyru begged, "is there a leader or someone I could talk to? It's really important!"

Seeing the sincerity in Ayamin's eyes, the Ixi sighed. "I guess I could take you to see the master of the Storm thieves guild..."

"Thank you so much, Xy! You're the best," Ayamin said, nearly jumping for joy.

The Ixi grinned at the Shoyru's enthusiasm. "Okay, follow me."

Xy led Ayamin...

Author: trinity_overload
Date: 08 January

...down the alley, then up another backstreet. Ayamin tried to remember the path they were taking, but couldn't; he suspected that was deliberate. If he couldn't find the way again, he couldn't betray the location of the Storm thieves later.

They didn't leave by one of the city's big main gates. Instead, Xy lead him out through a small door in the wall. Scrubland stretched from the city wall, then up to the mountain and on to the northwest.

Ayamin expected Xy to lead him through the scrubland and toward the mountain, but instead she stopped dead. Xy seemed to be counting the small bushes and trees. Her eyes finally lit up, and she said, "Ah, there it is!" She lead Ayamin toward a single scrubby bush.

To his surprise, she gripped the bush's largest branch firmly and pulled. A section of turf swung upward, revealing a tunnel beneath! Xy beckoned to him. "This way!" she said.

The tunnel was made of cool, dry stone, and was quite dark. Xy lifted an unlit torch from a sconce by the entrance, then let the hidden door swing shut again. She lead Ayamin through the winding tunnels. Here and there a path branched, and she paused to pick the right route.

"This labyrinth is the way to the den?" Ayamin asked nervously.

"Of course," Xy replied. "We have to protect ourselves, don't we?"

There were murals here and there on the walls. Most seemed to be of triumphant thieves: one showed a roguish one-eyed Eyrie diving down to pluck a crown from a king's head, while another showed a clever Mynci picking an enormous lock. Xy saw him studying them and said, "It's how we honor our bravest and most audacious thieves. After they've died, or retired, they get a mural on the wall. We're almost there now... the door is just up ahead."

Ayamin didn't hear the last part, though; his eyes were glued to wall. There, carved upon one of the stone walls, was a picture of a desperate-looking Aisha, who was leaping across rooftops with a small bundle in his arms. "Who's that?" he asked in a trembling voice.

"That," said a loud, booming voice, "is...

Author: barnowl42
Date: 09 January
...one of our most courageous thieves."

Ayamin jumped, then spun around to see a shadow Lupe step out from the darkness. Even in the poorly lit cave Ayamin could see the torn ear of the one-eyed Lupe. Though Ayamin shivered, Xy seemed unaffected by the Lupe's terrifying appearance.

"Who--" Ayamin began, but Xy interrupted. "May I present Shade, our Thief Master."

The Thief Master nodded. "And who, may I ask, would you be?"

Ayamin, sir," the Shoyru answered, nervous to be speaking to a master of thieves. "I was wondering... could you please tell me more about that Aisha on the wall?"

"I'm afraid that we don't reveal any information about our thieves to outsiders," the Thief Master growled, apparently becoming more suspicious. "However, you somehow seem familiar to me..." he added, in a more subdued tone.

Ayamin was confused. How could the Thief Master recognize him? The Lupe didn't seem familiar to Ayamin.

Xy nudged Ayamin, bringing him to his senses. "Show him the pendant," she muttered.

Ayamin grabbed the pendant around his neck. The young Shoyru adventurer gasped when he saw how the stone's bright royal blue light and swirling ripples gleamed through the cave's darkness. As he held it out toward the Thief Master, the Lupe's one eye lit up.

"That pendant!" exclaimed the Thief Master. "That's the same one that... yes!"

"Excuse me, sir?" Ayamin asked.

"I imagine I must tell you then." said the Thief Master. "One of our top spies," he began, "left on an important mission one day, and never returned...

Author: ange70
Date: 09 January

...We all feared that the worst had happened, and that the one he had been assigned to guard had fallen into the wrong hands. If that happened, the world would never be the same. The Blaze thieves are power-hungry and heartless; they care not what happens to innocent Neopets, as a result of their foul deeds." The Lupe watched Ayamin closely, with an almost fatherly concern in his one bright eye. "You were the one he was guarding."

Ayamin's features grew somber. He had guessed that, based on his dreams, he had been the thief's ward, but having the Thief Master say it aloud seemed to make it all the more real. He felt sad for the thief, who had carried him to safety, and left him at the only home he'd ever known 'til now. In fact, he maybe even felt a little guilty for being the reason that the Aisha was no longer around to tell the tale.

As he saw the compassion on Ayamin's face, Shade's smile became slightly sad, but he continued on. "A month passed, and we dared to hope. Caution told us that it may take them a long while to figure out how to use you, but hope was still there. Was there a chance that our top thief had saved you, even in losing his own life?

After a year, we were certain. You were not in the hands of the Blaze thieves. We were safe... for the time being.

"We searched for you for years, and had no success. Finally, one of our members, a mage-thief, suggested that we let you safely grow up wherever you were. Then, once you'd grown enough to take on the task, we would summon you to return." Shade paused, his eye glazing over as he remembered. "I was against it at first. Anything could happen to you. Without our protection, who knows what might happen to you? Besides, I thought you would need to be trained."

Ayamin was stunned by all of this. Him? Something that important? It was impossible. He was just a little fire Shoyru who had come from a normal family. The most special thing about him had been his rare color! All of that was changing, though.

"However," Shade continued, "the mage-thief convinced me. Then, two years ago, we decided that the time was right to call for you. She cast a spell that I, not being so fond of magic," he added a shiver to enunciate his words, "cannot begin to understand."

Of course. His dreams. Ayamin's eyes widened. "I started having the dreams two years ago," he said, completely in awe.

"It took you long enough to find me," Xy said, playfully irate. "My spell should have brought you right away!"

Ayamin jumped, surprised, and turned to the Ixi. "You're the mage-thief?!" he asked, incredulous. Today's surprises seemed unending.

Shade waved the question off with an impatient paw. "Yes, yes, but that isn't what's important. Since it took you so long, we don't have much time. Only you can fulfill your destiny, what you were born to do, which is to lead...

Author: kherezae
Date: 12 January
"...the Storm thieves in a final triumph over the Blaze thieves, so that we may rid Neopia of their selfish evils."

Ayamin gulped, unable to keep himself from staring at the Thief Master in utter shock. Him? Lead a band of thieves in conquest? His mouth suddenly felt very dry.

"Er..." he stammered, "Are you sure that I'm the right one? I mean, how do you know there wasn't some sort of mistake? Maybe somebody else is supposed to use this pendant. It-It could be just about anybody. Right?" Xy and Shade were both watching him with very serious expressions now, and Ayamin felt as though his stomach had turned to lead. "R-Right?"

"Ayamin," Xy said in a gentle but firm tone, "You are the only one meant to lead the Storm Thieves."

"But how do you know?" Ayamin asked, although his resolve was weakening. He had a feeling that Xy and Shade were not going to let him back out of this. Xy, however, did not immediately answer his question. Instead, she took him by the arm and led him back the way they had come. Startled, Ayamin instinctively dragged his feet along the dusty floor. Surely she wasn't going to throw him out? Not after everything they had just told him? Not when he was so close to finally understanding everything about his past! Frantically, Ayamin began stammering apologies for his cowardice.

"S-So sorry..." he whimpered as Xy threw open the secret entrance, pulling Ayamin halfway out of the hole in the ground so that he could see the sky.

"Now," she said commandingly, "Take the pendant in your right paw." Although he was shaking unbearably, Ayamin did so. He didn't want to risk being cast out by the Storm thieves after having come so far. Xy continued, her voice dropping to a more soothing tone, "Close your eyes... relax..."

Ayamin closed his eyes and took deep, shaky breaths. His mind was in a whirl. He was supposed to lead the Storm Thieves in battle? could Xy possibly expect him to relax after learning that?

"Tell me, Ayamin," he heard Xy's calming voice beside him, "What do you see?"

"Nothing," he responded promptly, and it was the truth. There was nothing but blackness behind his eyelids.

"Relax!" Xy commanded, and her voice suddenly sounded so powerful that Ayamin jumped. "Now... tell me what you see."

For a horrifying moment, Ayamin thought he would again be forced to say 'nothing.' However, just as his mouth was about to form the words, he began to see strange light flashing before his closed eyes.

"I... I see lights..." he murmured uncertainly.

"Yes? What else?" Xy sounded eager.

"All colors..." Ayamin continued, his brow furrowing as he tried to bring the strange lights into focus. "I think they're getting brighter. Yes, it's like I could reach out and--"

He was cut off by a sudden bright flash of blue light that startled him out of his thoughts, forcing his eyes open. Almost instantly, there was a deafening crack of thunder that shook the ground. Ayamin let out a frightened yelp, and was about to dive back into the hideout for cover, when Xy grabbed his arm. She pulled him towards her until their noses touched, and Ayamin was startled to see a strange brightness in her eyes.

"Don't you see, Ayamin?" her voice was nearly a whisper, "The power of the Storm thieves lies within you. Shade is only steward of the guild in your place. You are the true heir, and our leader."

Shade stepped out from the crevice behind them. "It's true. Our previous leader was killed by the treachery of the Blaze guild while in the city. They nearly got you as well, but the Aisha that was lost rescued you from the villains. However, it seems he was unable to return you to us. Please, Prince Ayamin... come inside. Your training must begin..."

Author: coloratura1832
Date: 13 January

...Over the next several weeks, Shade and Xy trained Ayamin. The big Lupe taught him all about leadership, and the Code of the Storm thieves, while Xy taught him how to harness and use the magical powers within him.

Summoning storms was not enough; Xy taught him how to raise up great winds, call torrents of rain from the sky, and direct lightning to strike a certain target. Such tasks were very difficult, and they tired Ayamin out. Many times he would beg Xy to let him sleep, but the Ixi kept him working until she was satisfied with the progress he'd made.

On the last day, Xy lead him to the top of the mountain where the Storm thieves kept their lair. She told him to summon a storm--the biggest he could. With some effort, he did, and soon the mountain peak was being lashed by strong winds and soaked with torrential rain. "Now," Xy yelled above the sound of the storm, "ride the storm, Ayamin!"

"What?!?" Ayamin screamed back.

"Fly in it!" Xy said. "Master it!"

"But... but that's too dangerous!" Ayamin knew that a that a Shoyru who attempted to fly in a storm would be in great danger from the lightning and winds.

"Not for you, Master of Storms!" the Ixi declared, giving him a light push. "Go!"

Ayamin swallowed his fears and took off. For a horrible moment, he was buffeted by the powerful winds, and the thunder seemed to crash just inches from his head. He desperately clutched the pendant on his chest.

Then, as if by magic, strange words came into his head. He spoke them, and the storm seemed to respond; the lightning began to flash at his command, and the winds settled under his wings, buoying him. It was like a great game, or a dance. With a triumphant laugh, Ayamin spiraled higher and higher on the winds.

However, when he reached the peak of his flight, Ayamin saw something in the distance that made his heart plummet. Yellow-green fire wreathed the landscape on the horizon, and it seemed to be creeping closer. He could see eerie tongues, and flecks of the strange fire lapping across the plains, toward the City and the Storm Thieves. What's that? he thought, folding his wings to dive back to the mountaintop as he bid the storm to cease.

Xy's expression turned to horror when Ayamin described what he'd seen. "Oh no," she breathed. "It's..."

Author: barnowl42
Date: 13 January
..."What? What is it?" The dying wind stole Ayamin's whisper with a hush, leaving only his eyes to beg Xy for an answer. Granted, he was almost sure he knew what that answer would bring--the yellow-green fire, ethereal dance set ablaze, burned itself into his mind as he remembered Shade's fateful words.

"...The Blaze thieves," Xy finished, pulling her cloak over her head. "Ayamin... Ayamin?" She brushed the Shoyru's forehead gently with a hoof, then smiled a bittersweet smile. "You know what you must do."

"I know, I..." Ayamin began, diverting his eyes to the flames that still licked the horizon. "I..." The scent of ash tickled his nose and burned his lungs. Smoke poured over the plains behind him, curling like fingers toward the distant city. Convoluted images of destruction rose like a tide in his mind, laced together with the odor of brimstone; memories of the Aisha, and the pendant, flashed before his eyes with overwhelming speed. Time was precious, he realized, precious enough that wasting it to wonder about possibilities would bring a heavy price... a price that would be measured in lives.

Ayamin's spirit betrayed his fear, and his resolve suddenly became stronger. "I must end this now, Xy. But... I don't think I can do it alone."

Xy grinned. "You don't need to worry about that," she said, a note of reassurance in her voice. "We will follow wherever you lead us, Master of Storms." The Ixi touched her chest, then Ayamin's forehead. "For luck," she said.

"For luck," Ayamin agreed weakly.

"It's time we met with Shade. Come on, let's do this!" Xy turned to head back down the trail, but stopped when a choked snarl reached her ears.

"What was that?" Ayamin asked, feeling his courage slip. "It sounded like..."

"...Shade!" Xy hissed. "Quickly, get to the foot of the mountain! I'll meet you there!"

"B-by myself?"

"It's much faster by wing than it is by foot! Hurry, Ayamin!" With those words, Xy leapt like a cat down the winding trail, and within a few moments, she had vanished from sight behind the outcrops of rock.

"It's now or never..." the little Shoyru told himself. He inhaled deeply, then dove off the precipice in a flurry of leaves, grasping his pendant for guidance. Immediately the winds shaped to cushion his body as he plummeted like a fiery dart through the grey sky. Sweet raindrops kissed his skin as the promise of thunder rumbled in the recesses of his thoughts. The words of Shade once again played through his head, and despite the fear plaguing his heart, he felt himself smile.

As he neared the ground, he discerned two shadowy forms--one, distinctly canine, was Shade-- the other, bipedal, draconic... could it have been a Shoyru?

He brought his feet down in the moistened dust.

"Ayamin!" a pained voice called. Through the vast, smoke-ridden gloom, Ayamin recognized Shade's warning tone.

"Be quiet," A second voice spat, "and learn your place, fool." The speech was slow and articulate, enough to make Ayamin shudder.

As wisps of smoke drifted away, the figure standing over the fallen Lupe turned around. A fire Shoyru stared back at Ayamin with feral eyes and a wild grin. A red pendant, similar to Ayamin's own, hung round his neck.

"Hello, brother," he sneered...

Author: evanescence
Date: 14 January

... "I have been waiting." he continued, his sneer widening. "Waiting all my life for this moment." He began walking towards Shade, and his pendant glowed brighter with every step.

"Le-leave him alone!" Ayamin managed to stammer, aware that his voice sounded shakey.

The other Shoyru laughed. It was a sinister sound that made Ayamin shiver. "As if you could stop me..." he said softly, his voice barely registering above a whisper. He reached out with a clenched fist towards Shade, as if he were about to strike him. But, instead of the Shoyru's fist connecting with the Lupe's jaw, there was a bright flash of fiery red light, and Shade lay on the ground, breathing heavily.

"Shade!" Ayamin yelled, starting forward, but the other Shoyru turned to him, his hard gaze making Ayamin halt.

The other Shoyru chuckled. "Do you not remember me, Ayamin? Your beloved brother?"

Ayamin shook his head. It was the truth. Until this moment, he'd never had any idea that he had a brother.

That was apparently the wrong move, though, as it just enraged the other Shoyru. He muttered something under his breath, then there was another bright flash of light, followed by a pained howl.

As the light dissipated, Ayamin saw what had been done. The shadow Lupe's fur was singed and smoking, and a few flames danced around his head.

"Shade!" a voice yelled from behind him. Xy ran up, with Singe at her side. "Quick," she told Ayamin, "Go to Shade! I can hold him off for a little while!"

Ayamin ran over to the shadow Lupe's side. He kneeled down, salty tears trickling down his fiery cheeks.

"Ayamin," Shade said, his voice little more than a hoarse whisper. It was obvious that the act of talking seemed to pain him. "I must tell you this... while... while I still breathe..."

"Don't say that!" Ayamin answered forcefully. "You'll be able to tell me later!"

Shade smiled a little. "Don't worry about me, Ayamin. My time has passed. You must lead the Storm thieves to victory!"

Ayamin shook his head, the tears flowing more freely now. "You'll be able to!"

Shade reached out, his paw brushing against Ayamin's hand. "Master of Storms, before I depart, I have to tell you...

Author: imphylion
Date: 14 January
...the rest of your story..." The Lupe paused, resting for a moment to catch his breath. "The only others who know it... would tell you falsely. No Storm thief besides me knows the story."

Ayamin nodded weakly, watching Shade intently, with worry vivid in his eyes. Behind him, where he couldn't see, the fight raged on. Xy was no match for Ayamin's brother, but she did her best to hold him back while Shade gave the Storm Master his final words.

"Ayamin... Your father was a Storm thief, and my very closest friend. He was Master of the Storm thieves, as you are now." Shade paused for breath, gripping Ayamin's hand tightly in his paw as he fought for the words to finish what he spoke. "But your mother... Fyru's mother... was a Blaze thief. She was a traitor, who'd made your father think she had become a Storm thief, made him trust her... then, once you and Fyru came into the world, she returned to the Blaze thieves."

Ayamin's eyes widened at the story, and his breath caught in his throat. "But..."

"We sent our top spy to bring you both back. However, he was only able to retrieve you, Ayamin. Your brother, Fyru," the Lupe began, his single eye now focused on the Shoyru fighting Xy behind where Ayamin sat, "was left to them. They taught him the dark ways... and they taught him to control his magic."

"H-how can I fight my brother?" Ayamin asked, his voice distraught.

Shade was fading fast. He merely smiled at Ayamin, managing to get out, "Try..." before collapsing into unconsciousness. Still holding on by only a thread, Shade would quickly need healing if he was to survive. That meant Ayamin would have to act quickly in getting past his brother...

Ayamin stood, glaring at Fyru. He witnessed as Fyru wiped Xy aside with a swath of flame, then turned his wicked glare on his brother. Xy let out a soft groan from the bushes where she'd landed.

The magic enshrouded Ayamin, crackling around him almost tangibly. He was the calm eye of the storm, and the furies of the wind and lightning were at his command. Fyru was a mere erratic flame, no match for the raging might of a storm--fire was passion, and violence... but the storm was pure power, harnessed by a calm at its center that could rule over such might far more effectively than fire ever could. Flames were no match for him. "Brother," Ayamin said, his voice calm but echoing loudly around them. "You seek to destroy what I have vowed to protect..."

Author: kherezae
Date: 15 January

...and for that, you shall pay the ultimate price." His body glowing with a brilliant aura, Ayamin began to summon the power of lightning.

Fyru looked mildly impressed. "Brother, your powers may be strong, but they are nothing compared to mine," he quipped. His arms burst into flames, and slowly took on the shape of a fireball. The fireball shot right at Ayamin, who dodged it just in the nick of time.

"Try this on for size," Ayamin smirked. He extended his arms, causing a barrage of sparks to attack Fyru.

Fyru screamed in pain as the sparks electrocuted his body. "Blasted fool," he cursed under his breath. He fired another round of fireballs at Ayamin, who extinguished them with the power of the wind.

"This has gone far enough," Ayamin stated. "It's high time that I put an end to your treachery." He flew into the clouds, leaving Fyru to follow him.

The older Shoyru laughed. "What's the matter, afraid to fight me?" he mocked.

"No, I was just drawing you into my trap," Ayamin's voice answered from up ahead. "The power of my storm will vanquish you!" He began to summon the thunder, the clouds, the wind, and the rain for his next attack.

"Drat... where has that idiot gone to?" Fyru murmured, losing his way in the clouds. A couple of thunderbolts crackled from above, and a few drops of rain came pouring to the ground. The wind blew higher, as it slowly took visible form.

Ayamin concentrated all of these elements into one form, the tornado. "This is it," he said. "Prepare to experience the power of the Tempest Cyclone!" The sky became a dark void, as the clouds mixed together to form a tornado. The tornado grew larger and larger, as it sucked up everything in its path. Above it, a torrent of thunderbolts made it even more deadly.

"N-n-no! This isn't possible," Fyru's eyes widened as the storm approached him. It swallowed him within seconds, and continued swirling forward, leaving a path of destruction in its wake.

Ayamin had been left breathless by the amount of energy he'd put forth during the attack. "That, brother... shall serve as your defeat..."

Author: shoyrutamer_13
Date: 15 January
...unfortunately, Fyru decided it was not quite time for him to be defeated. Severely weakened and hurt by Ayamin's cyclone, he still managed to narrowly escape its wrath as his brother began releasing his magic. Seeing this, Ayamin prepared himself to build another tornado... this one that would destroy Fyru for sure. However, Fyru had other ideas...

Summoning all of his power, Fyru started to make a cyclone of his own: a cyclone of fire! It rose, a smoking pillar of heat and death, growing larger and turning blood red. Drained by all the effort that this required, Fyru began to sink to his fiery knees and gasp for air. He still forced himself to use his magic.

"No!" Ayamin cried. "You, who would call me a fool, are a greater fool than any! You are so power hungry, and ridden with hatred, that you would do anything to defeat me, even if it meant destroying yourself! You must stop, brother... you are using too much magic!"

However, Fyru was way past hearing anything but the roaring in his ears. A black spot formed in his vision, growing rapidly and blocking out everything.

"Fyru, stop!" Ayamin screeched. "That spell is too powerful! If you lose hold of it--"

It was too late. Fyru had finally pushed his magic too far. He'd lost control, and his own powerful magic had turned against him. The cyclone of fire engulfed him... when the vortex of flame subsided, all that was left was the red pendant lying in the charred dust.

Ayamin then rushed toward Shade, to find that Xy had stabilized him with a bit of magic. "He's going to make it, but we need to get him back to the guild," she said, then gasped as her eyes fell upon Ayamin. "You're... you're electric!" she said, pointing to him.

Confused, Ayamin looked down at his body. Sure enough, his fiery color was gone, replaced by electric blues! "Wow!" he said, "I must have changed when I called forth the energy for that cyclone!"

Xy smiled. "You are a true Storm thief, Ayamin. I'd be honored if you would lead us from now on."

Ayamin smiled, then walked over and picked his brother's amulet from the ground. He'd never let another innocent be corrupted by the raging fury of fire. "Come on, let's go home."

* * * * *

Three weeks later...

Author: dreamgirl11dy
Date: 16 January

...Exhausted, but happy, Ayamin tread through the secret tunnels of the guild. During the past few weeks, the Storm thieves and their allies had driven out the Blaze thieves, freeing the city of their oppression and violent ways. It was strange, being head of the guild. However, with the guidance of his friends, and the overwhelming and loving support of the other thieves, Ayamin was quickly adjusting.

Ayamin smiled as he touched the beautiful stone wall. The Aisha, black as night and carrying the precious bundle, seemed just about to leap out onto Ayamin. He felt all of the small pet's need to run and escape, plus all the powerful, feral rage in his muscular body. The picture might as well have been moving; the Aisha's ears rippling back in the wind, his fur dampened by the sweat of his dash for escape. The pendant around the little Shoyru's neck was frozen in true action: flying, sparking, and glimmering with all the power of a Storm thief.

Next to all the other beautiful paintings in the tunnel, this one was Ayamin's very favorite. It held all of his past, his distant memories. But now, Ayamin looked up from the mural, glancing around. Xy had told him to meet him here for a special surprise, but he couldn't see the Ixi anywhere. He suddenly felt something by his foot.

Glancing down quickly with a gasp, Ayamin saw a small Moltenore sitting at his feet. "Hey, Singe!" Ayamin cried playfully as he patted Xy's Petpet on the head. The little fiery creature cooed with delight, and squirmed happily beneath Ayamin's hand.

A hoof on his shoulder pulled Ayamin away from the Moltenore. He turned to find himself looking into the beautiful pink eyes of his best friend. Xy gave Ayamin a secretive sort of smile.

"I was waiting for you... what's this all about?" Ayamin asked. Xy shrugged playfully and trotted down the hallway, around a curve in the path. Ayamin followed quickly, then as he came around the turn, his heart swelled with happiness.

For there, standing in the tunnel and looking rather nervous, was his foster mother. She gave a cry when she saw Ayamin, and the two Shoyrus ran towards each other. "Mother!" Ayamin cried, hugging her.

"Oh Ayamin! Is that my little boy? I love your new color!" cried his mother, holding her foster-child tightly. You would have never known that they were not bound by nature, because the love between them was so strong.

"That's not all," came a familiar, strong voice. Ayamin looked up to see Shade, wobbling a bit from his wounded leg and holding a small paintbrush in his mouth. Xy went to stand beside him, and it was almost like the two were hiding a place on the wall.

"Shade! You're up!" Ayamin cried excitedly, happy to see his friend was now well enough to get out of bed.

"Yes, and while I was healing, I asked Xy to help work on a little something for you..."

The Ixi and Lupe pulled away from the wall to reveal, still sparkling with wet paint, a Shoyru who sported a blue pendant hanging around his neck. His head was bent and his arms were surging forward, with power, muscles rippling in his body as he strained to take power from the storm and create a whirling cyclone. The pendant around his neck glowed with power, and light danced across its glassy surface. The Shoyru's upper half was an electrical shade of blue, with bolts here and there in various hues of azure. His lower half, though, was black and licked with flames, as if fighting against the other color.

It was Ayamin.

Speechless, Ayamin walked closer to the wall, so that his nose almost touched his painting. "Careful," Xy chuckled. " You'll smudge it." Ayamin gave the three others the brightest smile he could manage, but pulled a little mock-sadness into his eyes. Shade and Xy's grins fell.

"What's wrong?" Shade asked. Before answering, Ayamin took the paintbrush from his Lupe friend and sketched the faint outline of a brave Ixi standing over a strong Lupe behind the picture of himself, as if in the distance, yet not that far away. Never having been much of an artist before, Ayamin couldn't help but feel very proud of his work. The Ixi looked so real, her cloak billowing out behind her. The Lupe looked so strong, his head lifted in pain, his eyes reflecting strength.

"Don't get too proud of yourself, kid... the wall's magic." Xy said, laughing. She hugged her friend happily.

Shade smiled proudly at Ayamin. "Well, you've certainly grown into your role as true master of the Storm thieves. Now, there's a picture on the wall, that will tell your story for the generations to come."

The End

Author: griffonsplasher
Date: 16 January



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